Posted by: Idioma Extra | September 14, 2011

Thursday Tidbit -less or -ful

-less or -ful  

There are many words in the English language that end in the suffixes –less  or –ful. The root word Less means “not sufficient or lacking in” while full  is it’s opposite, meaning ”complete or a lot of.” The list below contains root words that take on either less or ful. However, be careful! Not all root words can take on both suffixes (i.e. a person can be beardless, but he can’t be beardful). Here is a list of words that can use both suffixes, which basically have opposite meanings.



Useless Useful
Meaningless Meaningful
Flavorless Flavorful
Merciless Merciful
Careless Careful
Colorless Colorful
Helpless Helpful
Thoughtless Thoughtful
Purposeless Purposeful
Painless Painful

Check Yourself

Underline the correct word to complete the sentence.

1. I’m glad my boss worked with me a lot on the project because I had no clue. He was very (helpful / helpless).

2. Some people can handle getting a tattoo, but I can’t. I think it is too (painful / painless).

3. If you speak to me in a language I don’t understand, it is (meaningful / meaningless) to me.

4. This food has no spices or anything. It is completely (flavorful / flavorless).

5. My younger brother spends all his time playing video games. When it comes to helping around the house, he is (useful / useless).

6. The visiting team beat us 63-0 in football. They were completely (merciful / merciless).

7. I need you to be (careful / careless) when picking up the baby.

8. The scenic views in Costa Rica are very (colorful / colorless).

9. He has thought of every detail for the project. He works in a very (purposeful / purposeless) manner.

10. My co-workers gave me some flowers while I was in the hospital. They were extremely (thoughtless / thoughtful).

Answers to last week’s Check  Yourself

1. I received a phone call (during / for) my lunch hour.

2. He studied at Harvard (for / during) three years.

3. I have been awake (during / for) one hour.

4. I really enjoy ice skating (during / for) the winter.

5. She has been wearing glasses (during / for) at least 5 years.

6. The police intervened (for / during) the riots.

7. Class usually lasts (during / for) 3 hours.

8. I waited in line at the bank (during / for) a long time.

9. I don’t like it when people call me (during / for) dinner time.

10. He has a hard time seeing while driving (during / for) the night.


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